Despite the backlash from the LGBT community, MTV's newest comedy, Faking It, premiered without a hitch. Maybe you remember my very emotional plea for this show to not be offensive, to not suck. I really, really wanted Faking It to not be about two teenage girls pretending to be lesbians so they get elected Homecoming Queens and win popularity. Because holy crap is that not realistic at all. I found myself going to bed each night and praying to the Based God that Faking It wouldn't just sexualize lesbians, that MTV would make it a learning experience instead. And I guess I kind of got an answer to that?
When the world first read about Faking It's premise, there was no mention that one half of the faux lesbian couple would maybe be a lesbian who has developed feelings for her best friend. For that addition to the show, I'm grateful. What closeted LGBT teen can't relate to having a crush on a friend, but feel unable to say anything? Not only is there a fear of losing a friendship but, for many, there's a fear of losing family, housing, an entire support system, if word ever got out that that person wasn't walking the straight and narrow.
Faking It plays with that idea while switching up the usual stereotypes, which sometimes works in the show's favor. Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk) go to a different type of high school than what most of America is used to seeing. In Weird Austin's Hester High School, the outcasts are the in-crowd, which means all the young Republicans are exiled and shamed for their conservative behavior. It's not a bad thing to be gay here. Watching the show, then, is like discovering utopia. It left me with a fake-sugar taste in the back of my mouth. I wanted to believe, but it was so unnatural that I couldn't connect to that type of high school experience at all. I thought it was suppose to be satirical but the show runner, Carter Covington, argues that it's more of an exaggerated version of reality.
You would think that, at such a perfectly accepting high school, people would let others come out on their own time. Because, you know, despite going to the most liberal school in the world, who knows what any individual's family life is like? Or simply, maybe, that person isn't ready to be out and proud yet? Not at this high school, especially with the most popular student, a gay guy named Shane (Michael J. Willett) thinks it's a cardinal sin to be living in the closet and makes it his mission to out Karma and Amy at his party.
A few moments before the forced outing, Liam (Gregg Sulkin), the hottest straight ally at the school, was hitting on Karma despite thinking she was in a relationship with Amy. My worst fears came true: Faking It is about a straight guy attempting to change a lesbian. And worse than that? Liam is painted as a good guy because he's "accepting." Cool, you tolerate hanging out with a feminist and a gay guy but you're straight? Straight girls, stop swooning!
Still, it's that moment of "oh shit" that crosses Amy's face after she's kissed her best friend that I will be tuning in for. Faking It isn't perfect, but at least it's letting other LGBT kids know that their struggles are real and that not every battle is the same. Faking It could actually help change the game, too, if the story focuses on Amy and her struggle to figure out who she is, as opposed to Karma trying to figure out how to be popular and Liam's battle to get into the pants of a lesbian.
Written by Hope Schreiber (@HopeSchreiber)